Widening works at Narphung affects commuters & residents

Frequent roadblocks at Narphung on the way from Trashigang to SamdrupJongkhar highway, cause inconvenience to both the commuters plying the highway and the villagers residing below the highway.

Widening work along the 180km stretch from Trashigang to SamdrupJongkhar at Narphung has left two gewogs, Gomdar and Wongphu affected by falling boulders and landslides that keep blocking the road.

While many commuters traveling through the highway are frustrated with the frequent roadblocks, the villagers of Gomdar and Wongphugewog are the worst affected by the situation.

Narphung and Denchi chiwog tshogpa, Yangda Dorji said that slides keep occurring and big boulders block the GC road affecting the villagers of two gewogs.

The Tshogpa said that DANTAK officials at the site are not willing to clear up and sometimes it takes time for the blocks to clear causing inconvenience to the villagers.

“The problem becomes worse during the monsoon. I think we will suffer the same fate during this monsoon,” said the Tshogpa. “With the widening work still incomplete, villagers remain cut off most of the time.”

Residents say something has to be done either to stabilize the area or the route changed to avoid the slide.

Another resident said at Narphung, there are streams above the road and many huge boulders about to fall on the road which is risky for both the commuters and villagers living below the highway.

Villagers say there is an urgent need for a solution to the Narphung road bloks before monsoon starts.

GomdarGup, SonamTshewang said that widening work at Narphung has not only affected the GC road but it has also damaged the water sources causing water shortage in the gewog.

“Workers at the site are using the gewog road as a dumping pit and have made the road non-pliable,” said the gup.

Including the two gewogs of Gomdar and Wangphu, there are more than 1,000 households who travel through the Gomdar road to SamdrupJongkhar-Trashigang highway.

Meanwhile, Project DANTAK officials said that since the Gomdar GC road is located just below the highway, the GC road is a risk prone area.

An officer with Project DANTAK said they had informed the gewog administration to inform them if the widening works cause inconvenience at the road.

“The gewog administration informs us whenever there is a problem and we make sure to give a quick response,” said an officer. “We deploy our machines and workers to clear the Gomdar GC road, whenever there are blocks.”

Meanwhile, the remaining widening and blacktopping works highway will be completed by this year, according to the project Dantak officials.

More than a decade after the widening works began along the highway, frequent major roadblocks are a common feature along the stretch, especially during summer.

Although majority of the work along the road has been completed, the haul that begins from Narphung in SamdrupJongkhar till Kharungla in Trashigang has been a major concern for both the commuters and project DANTAK.

DANTAK officials said that weather and difficult terrain are the major challenges that hamper the work progress along the stretch. “We are exploring an alternative route and possibilities of a tunnel bypass along through the stretch,” the official said. “However, these are at a very initial stage and nothing has been finalized yet.”

A commuter said that even if the work is completed, journey along the highway would be risky. “We can see the newly opened highways being blocked frequently.” However, commuters are skeptical if the works would be completed this year. “It has been more than 15 years now since the works began,” said a regular traveler. “It would take at least three more years if they continue at this pace.”

Jigme Wangchen from Narphung, S/jongkhar